About this Research Topic
The marine environment accounts for more than 90 % of the earth’s biosphere, features several types of (extreme) ecosystems, and is at the origin of life. Marine prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms are very diverse, and are sometimes, in particular for the latter, the result of intricate evolutionary history. This biodiversity, encounters in many different habitats, shapes various types of abiotic and biotic interactions which influence the biology of the organisms and the functioning of ecosystems. To better understand these natural processes, marine scientists historically considered as valuable to gather and interface data obtained at different levels of analysis (molecular, cellular, tissue/organ, organism/individual, population, community, ecosystem), and to conduct interdisciplinary research making use of principles, knowledge and tools of different fields including biology, ecology, mathematics, physics, and computer sciences. This holistic philosophy recently gains a whole new perspective by the emergence of systems biology. Initially motivating by designing new theoretical frameworks, this field quickly showed its interest to address many applied integrative research problems across humans and other terrestrial model species.
Because of their history, marine sciences today follow this momentum by expanding systems biology approaches to a broader range of marine (eco)systems. To this aim, technological developments are an essential driver and the application of high throughput profiling techniques, the so-called “omics”, to marine organisms is allowing the acquisition of many datasets (genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, metabolomes) for reconstruction of networks and for modeling. In the same time, the development of new computational methods allows for the processing of these large datasets, the production of networks and the building of mathematical and/or logical models usable to describe the organization of systems and their dynamics when submitted to perturbations. Interestingly, and compared to other natural systems, marine (eco)systems are an ideal benchmark for designing systems biology approaches: one can replicate quantitative experiments while tackling multiscale questions. In addition to providing insights into the biology of marine organisms and the functioning of marine ecosystems, these approaches pave the way for modeling and predicting evolution of marine processes under changing environmental conditions, and also for inspiring and providing some solutions for a bio-based economy.
In this Research Topic, we will highlight applications of integrative and systems biology approaches to marine (eco)systems at different levels of organization and at different scales, together with descriptions of methodological aspects, computational methods, and software tools that can be applied by scientists to explore system-wide models and to formulate new hypotheses. We also encourage the presentation of ongoing original work that will illustrate how systems biology can contribute to defining new insights and avenues for marine biology. We warmly welcome original research articles, method articles, reviews, mini-reviews or perspective articles.
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